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Shell ‘National Students Art Competition’ continues despite pandemic

The Manila Times logo The Manila Times 8/29/2020 Christina Alpad, TMT

Now that the country is focusing its efforts and resources to stop the further spread of Covid-19, with its citizenry barely managing to cover the basic needs, to launch the annual Shell National Students Art Competition (NSAC) may seem ill-timed.

a close up of an animal: ‘Gising Sanip,’ 2019 NSA C Watercolor 1st Place © Provided by The Manila Times ‘Gising Sanip,’ 2019 NSA C Watercolor 1st Place

But as thought leaders and industry insiders argue, now more than ever is when art is needed.

For one, many people struggling to survive during the quarantines and lockdowns have turned to art — in different media — to channel their frustrations or stress.

“Art plays a role in times of crisis; I think the intense emotions will be expressed through art as well as the dream and aspirations of artists. Art is a tool that can help shape and influence our future by inspiring creativity, provoking thoughts and empowering people to make a change,” shared Sankie Simbulan, Pilipinas Shell’s Country Social Performance and Investment manager.

a book on a bed: ‘Rich Mind, Rich Land,’ 2019 NSA C Digital Fine Arts 1st Place © Provided by The Manila Times ‘Rich Mind, Rich Land,’ 2019 NSA C Digital Fine Arts 1st Place

As such, Shell finds it fitting to continue to hold NSAC, one of the country’s longest-running student art competitions. For over half a century since its start, NSAC has been instrumental to the growth of thousands of artists, including abstract artist turned National Artist of the Philippines awardee Jose Joya, Expressionist painter Ang Kiukok, applied sculpture practitioner Leeroy New, and realistic oil painter Ivan Roxas.

a close up of a rug: ‘Still Standing,’ 2019 NSA C Oil and Acrylic 1st Place © Provided by The Manila Times ‘Still Standing,’ 2019 NSA C Oil and Acrylic 1st Place

For its 53rd edition burdened with the challenges of Covid-19 pandemic, the competition chooses to adapt to the times with this year’s theme, “Hope in our art.”

“We know that art depicts the current realities but most especially, artists are there to paint a picture of the future, of the dreams and aspirations. Our theme, ‘Hope in our art’ is really meant to inspire that. It’s such a dire situation, most of us are struggling with the current realities, but we want to be able to inspire hope,” Simbulan noted.

The executive maintains that NSAC is the energy company’s “contribution to preserving arts and culture in the country and general cultural heritage.”

a close up of a piece of paper: ‘The Safe And Sound Of Patongpatong,’ 2019 NSA C Sculpture 1st Place © Provided by The Manila Times ‘The Safe And Sound Of Patongpatong,’ 2019 NSA C Sculpture 1st Place

“Art is needed now more than ever and we will see to it that it continues. By providing a wider platform for Filipino artists, curators, and collectors, we are giving the next-generation art sector a better chance to thrive. The young artists who emerge from them will be the first to lead us to a brighter tomorrow,” added Pilipinas Shell Vice President for External and Government Relations Serge Bernal.

With that, NSAC calls on student artists from all over the country anew to showcase their talents in various media such as digital arts, oil and acrylic, watercolor, and even sculpture.

To ensure the safety of everyone participating in the competition, every step of NSAC will be done online — from the submissions of the entries (photographed with specific guidelines) up until the awarding of the winners.

Winning contestants will receive cash prizes, medals, and plaques, with the 3rd placer getting P30,000; 2nd placer, P40,000; and 1st placer, P60,000. All other finalists will also receive P2,000 and certificates.

Moreover, Shell NSAC will be giving the winners new innovative platforms to unveil their talents while inspiring their countrymen. Though numerous galleries and museums have shuttered all over the world, the visual artwork created in the will be highlighted in digital displays and promoted to the online communities.

As the competition expects more than 1,250 student participants this year, Filipino artists who joined the online launch of NSAC imparted encouraging messages for these future participants.

“I have confidence that the Filipino youth will prevail. They’re resilient, and they’re digital natives who can quickly adapt to technological progress,” shared multi-media artist and art educator Riza Romero.

Fringe Manila International Arts Festival Founder Andrei Pamintuan, meanwhile, said, “For all the young and emerging artists out there, you have an incredible role in history and society — you are changing people’s lives through your expression and you remind each of us about humanity.”

“I encourage everyone to please do not stop to continue to express yourselves. Let’s embrace this digital world and explore the digital as the physical for now. The pandemic is temporary but your art, your contribution to society will always be a lasting legacy,” Pamintuan ended.

Applicants may submit their entries until October 11.

For the full mechanics, visit Pilipinas Shell’s official website,

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